Obama to announce return of US troops from Afghanistan
13 February, 2013
WASHINGTON: In his State of the Union address on Tuesday night President Barack Obama intends to announce return of more than half of US troops from Afghanistan over the next 12 months.
The Washington Post reported that The US president's decision "to remove 34,000 of the 66,000 U.S. troops in the country by this time next year" speeds the pace of withdrawal that top military commanders had been seeking, according to U.S. officials briefed by senior officers involved in the war.
The officers, including Gen. John R. Allen, who relinquished command of the war Sunday, had favored a reduction of no more than 25,000 troops this year, leaving about 40,000 in Afghanistan in 2014 to continue training local security forces and provide security for the country's next presidential election, which is scheduled for April 2014.
"This is steeper than we had hoped for," said a senior U.S. official aligned with the military leadership. But, according to the Post, many of the president's top civilian national security advisers believed that removing about half of the troops this year will leave enough forces to train the Afghan army and assist it in providing security for the election.